I have one more week of school and then I’m home for the summer.
Nine weeks, with both kids.
I don’t think there is a way for me to accurately convey how terrified I am.
It’s kind of embarrassing actually, how scared I am of spending nine weeks with my kids. The prospect of being alone with them didn’t used to inspire this kind of fear, but at their current ages they present a combination of challenges that really terrify me.
I’ve enrolled my daughter in some half day camps but they are each only four days long and they end at 1pm. My daughter will be home just in time for my son’s nap. There will be no breaks this summer.
I am trying to figure out how and when I’ll work out. I’m trying to figure out how and when I’ll plan for next year. I’m trying to figure out how and when I’ll get things done.
Yes, I’m terrified, but I’m also harboring a considerable amount of hope. It’s tenuous, and slips easily from my grasp, but I gather it up again at the end of each day and I’m getting better at keeping it in place.
I’ve been thinking a lot about what I need for this summer to feel successful. I realized pretty quickly that I need to simplify.
Everything needs to be simpler.
It’s starting with our stuff. The Great Purge of 2015 rid of us many unnecessary items, but the job is not complete. I finally feel like I can manage all of our stuff (which is a massive improvement), but I’m coming to realize that it still takes way too long for me to manage it. I spend a lot of my time with my kids cleaning up after them and I don’t want our days to be dictated by our things in that way. If I want to keep the house free of debris, without always bending down to pick something up, we have to have a lot less stuff.
I’ve been very mindful of what I’m perpetually picking up and I have a good idea of what we need to get rid of. The stuffed animal collection will be cut in half (I’ve already done that twice in past purges but holy shit we still have a lot of stuffed animals). The bins full of random toys will be reduced from three to one; the same will be done to my son’s boxes of board books. I’ve dismantled our (considerable) DVD collection, only keeping the kids movies that aren’t readily accessible on Net.flix (ahem, Dis.ney). Only about one tenth of my daughter’s library will remain in her room: a (very) small portion will migrate to her brother’s room and one small box will go into storage to be rotated out but most of her books will be getting the boot.
More of my clothes will go, and more of my books. We moved my husband’s LP collection to a shelving unit we bought not long ago and put his turn table above the television so his music shelf can go. We already moved what was left of my daughter’s toys into the small shelves under her semi-loft bed and got rid that big piece of furniture. The DVD stand is gone and when my daughter’s bookshelf is donated we’ll have gotten rid of four considerably sized pieces of furniture. Nothing is coming in to take their places.
When we purged in January of this year I never thought we’d be doing such a drastic follow up so soon, but this definitely feels right. Before I got rid of stuff because I wanted to, now I’m doing it because I need to. I won’t survive this summer if things continue this way. I need space in my heart and mind to just be, and I won’t have that when there is shit everywhere.
I want this summer to be simple. I want it to be about walking to the park with lunch ready in my backpack, sitting in the living room building with blocks, constructing forts under my daughter’s bed, wrapping play silks around our shoulders and becoming someone else.
I want this summer to be screen-free. And I want to keep my sanity.
We need this. All four of us. We need to find ourselves again, because something deep within us has been lost to the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
I have thought a lot about what I want, and need, to be happy, but I still struggle to pin it down. It seems I’m pretty good at identifying what I don’t want, but I’m shit at recognizing what will actually make me happy. So many of my parenting decisions have been based on negatives I’m trying to avoid, not on positives I want to embrace. For the first time I think I’m finally seeing a clearer picture of what I want our family life to look like. And I think this summer just might be our opportunity to build its foundation.
Sure I’m terrified, but I also have some serious aspirations. I appreciate this time I have with my children, and I’m grateful for the professional guidance I’ll have at my disposable. I do think that I can do this, that we can do this.
In one week I’ll start to find out.
What do you want this summer to look like?